Home Health Aide Career Facts

Home health aides provide home services to elderly, disabled or convalescent people on a needs basis. Home health aides usually attend clients on a daily or other appropriate schedule, in accordance with the levels of care required. The clients may be under significant stress due to their health issues so building good client relationships in often difficult situations one of the most important tasks of a home health aid worker.

The work environment

The home health care aide in usually working from other people's homes. Conditions can be extremely variable, with client's household issues and situations being additional factors. The four main service areas of home health aides are:

  • Residential mental retardation services
  • Services for the elderly
  • Services for people with disabilities
  • Basic home health care for people with other medical conditions requiring support

Home health aides provide many domestic services, but do not provide medical procedures. These services may include:

  • Assistance with domestic tasks like cleaning
  • Bathing
  • Cooking (includes special diets)
  • Feeding
  • Grooming
  • Shopping
  • Errands
  • Laundry
  • Taking clients to medical appointments
  • Instructing clients in health regimes
  • Psychological support 

Another extremely important role of the home health aides is monitoring clients. Home health aides perform valuable work by maintaining a systematic record of the services provided to the client. They also report on the client's current situation and refer any changes or issues to supervisors. In many cases home health care services recipients are also under direct medical supervision by nurses or other professionals, and home health aides work to assist them as required. The average working hours and wages vary depending on the scope of the job and the area where the worker is located.

  • Average Wages: $6 an hour to $11.60 an hour depending on experience. The median average rate is approximately $8.50. Wage scales vary depending on the type of care provided.
  • Average working hours: In the US, roughly a third of home health aides work part time. Some work hours tailored to client requirements.

Education and training

In the US, formal qualifications for home health aides are required by some states. In other countries, on the job training is the basic standard. Formal training is provided by community colleges, vocational schools, home health care providers and elderly care programs. The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) provides a national certification for home health aides. There is a 75 hour course, with a standardized test of competencies assessed by a registered nurse upon completion. A written NAHC exam must also be passed for certification. Other certifications, qualifications and requirements for employment purposes are:

  • State medical examinations, including tuberculosis, where required.
  • Criminal background check
  • Credit check
  • Driving record

The career environment

The home health aide job doesn't lead directly to advancement. It does, however, help create career opportunities by providing essential experience in the health care industry which is relevant as a prerequisite for entry into career courses. Home health aides sometimes go on to become registered nurses. While others, become self employed, small business owners. This career path may grow significantly in the future because demand for services is projected to increase dramatically in the next decade.